Today’s Reading: Matthew 9:1-13
1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” he then said to the paralytic “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
10 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The scribes: Jewish leaders and experts in the Mosaic Law. The episode marks the beginning of a growing resistance to Jesus, which culminates in his death (16:21; 20:18; 27:41-43).
Blaspheming: A charge leveled at Jesus for his claim to absolve sins (cf. Lev 24:16; Jn 10:33). From the scribes’ perspective, only God can rightly forgive (Ps 103:12; Is 43:25; Mk 2:7). Moreover, this forgiveness was available only through the sacrificial system of the Temple. Jesus’ actions hence prove scandalous: he not only claims to forgive, but he does so apart from the Old Covenant system. In the end, the scribes remain unaware that Jesus has divine authority to inaugurate the New Covenant (Jer 31:31-34; CCC 589).